Friday, September 10, 2010

Very Nice, Indeed


Opening credits of "Very Nice, Very Nice"

Last night on TVO, I caught the last half of a film about Arthur Lipsett, a NFB film maker who made a seven minute short called "Very Nice, Very Nice". Made in 1961 "...Lipsett's first film is an avant-garde blend of photography and sound. It looks behind the business-as-usual face we put on life and shows anxieties we want to forget. It is made of dozens of pictures that seem familiar, with fragments of speech heard in passing and, between times, a voice saying, "Very nice, very nice." It was was critically acclaimed and plays frequently in festivals and film schools around the world."

More than what that NFB synopsis suggests is how incredibly modern the film feels. It's a bit of a lesson in both editing and collage, and is far more influential than realized (George Lucas counts Lipsett's "21-87" as an important influence). I don't really understand why I hadn't heard of this film. It seems as though we were force-fed Norman McLaren and Donald Brittain in school but nothing about Lipsett. Perhaps it's because he became mentally ill and withdrew from friends and family, eventually committing suicide in 1986. Fortunately, in 2006 the film Remembering Arthur was made and illuminates his work as well as his personal troubles. Enjoy seven minutes of surprise.

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